Chapter 42 – The Empress Pleads (1)
Although the Emperor was coldly staring at the old official, he actually had a severe headache.
He and the Empress had been husband and wife for over twenty years; although there weren’t any sparks of romance between them, they were still respectful of one another. Unfortunately, there hadn’t been any notable talent within the Liu Family recently. They could only rely on their senior official to ensure that the Empress was able to secure her position, but their accomplishments stopped there. If the Empress were to make a single grave mistake, those who wished for the Liu Family’s demise would grasp the opportunity in an instant!
The right minister of the Liu Family was simply old and confused!
The Liu’s confidential letters were exposed and thrown to the ground. It was conclusive evidence of their corruption. The old Right Minister trembled as his eyes moistened.
Upon gathering his resolve, the old official said, “This guilty minister is responsible for all of these things. The Empress had no hand in the matter, and the Crown Prince is even more innocent. Your Majesty, this guilty minister takes all responsibility.” The Right Minister kowtowed deeply as he spoke when the Left Minister, who was in charge of the Ministry of Revenue, suddenly coldly scoffed at him.
“Hmph! So many people were involved in meddling with supplies that it’s impossible for such a feat to have been accomplished without the Empress’ orders.”
The Left Minister took the initiative to also kneel before the emperor. “Your Majesty, these letters contain solid evidence that the Empress and her father, the Right Minister, colluded in exchanging Xi Zhou’s disaster supplies with substandard products! Moreover, this official believes that this is not the first time they have done so. Year after year, the relief supplies delivered to Xi Zhou actually contained old and poor-quality grains. This was clearly the unrighteous acts of royalty! Such a corrupt woman is not fit to be the nation’s mother! This minister pleads for Your Majesty to deliver justice. Please depose the Empress!”
“You!” The Right Minister stared at his fellow official with wide eyes. The vein in his forehead seemed to bulge as he struggled to hold back his anger. Although the Liu Family had indeed meddled with relief supplies in the past, they only tampered with a portion of it; there were many other officials who dipped their hands into the goods. However, the Left Minister threw all of the responsibility for past corruption onto the Liu Family! If they were convicted of such a heavy crime, the Liu Family was sure to lose all of their properties and perish!
Unfortunately, as the saying goes, if a wall is about to collapse, everyone gives it a push.[/note]墙倒众人推–when a man is going downhill, everyone will give him a push[/note] Before the Right Minister could speak out in defense, all of the courtiers knelt down before the emperor.
“Please depose the Empress!”
The old right minister sat frozen as if he had aged ten years.
Just as the pleading shouts came to an end, Gong Che appeared before the Main Palace’s entrance with a heavy heart. He took the letters of evidence in his hand and knelt before his father.
The Empress could not stop Gong Che from going to the Emperor. As she helplessly watched her son walk further from her reach, her eyes gradually regained their soberness.
She called for a servant to help her up, then she returned to her palace. The Empress sat before her makeup table and silently looked at her reflection in the mirror. Suddenly, she ordered, “Hong Xiu, help me dress and apply makeup.”
The old palace maid quickly stepped forward and with choked emotions said, “Dear Empress, please take care. Everything will be alright.”
The Empress did not respond and continued to unenthusiastically stare at the mirror. “Arrange my hair with the same hairstyle I had during my grand ceremony that year.” She looked at her slightly rounder waist and sighed. “I don’t know if the phoenix robe from that time can still be worn.”
As soon as she finished speaking, another one of her confidants, the female official Tian Xiang, hurriedly knelt down and said, “This servant will quickly bring it for you.”
“There’s no need for haste.”
A glimmer of ruthlessness flashed across the Empress’ eyes.
Would she just admit defeat like this? No, she wouldn’t… She looked at her reflection in the mirror. She had originally wanted to ask Long Gui Fei to extend a hand of mercy, but now, she clenched her teeth and changed her plans.
“Quickly go to the Taiji Palace and invite the Chaoyang Princess over!”
Of course, how could she forget a variable like Gong Yi Mo?
The Empress touched her face as her thoughts became clearer. She could not admit defeat like this! Once she fell, the Crown Prince, her father, and the rest of her family would face devastation.
But she could at least save Gong Che… Her child, he must remain a prince!